Australian online retailers still playing catch up from Australia Post's parcel pause

Australia Post may have cleared its parcel delivery backlogs, but customers of retailers such as Big W and Target have been warned they may still experience delivery delays.

Australian retailers are continuing to bear the brunt of parcel delivery delays, a week after Australia Post temporarily halted parcel collections from online retailers so it could clear out its delivery backlog.

At the start of the month, Australia Post paused parcel collections from online retailers in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, and Victoria from 7am, 4 September 201 to 7am, 7 September 2021.

The company blamed the backlog on a culmination of current COVID-19 restrictions, shortage of staff, and increasing volumes of online orders.

An Australia Post spokesperson told ZDNet the three-day pause helped eased parcel congestion.

"The pause -- which was just on collections for ecommerce merchants in NSW, VIC and ACT for three days -- has assisted in managing the congestion in our network and has ensured our volumes are coming down to a safe and manageable level," the spokesperson said.

"Deliveries continued over the weekend, and will continue between now and Christmas."

Retailers, however, are still playing catch up with delivering parcels that were impacted by Australia Post's decision. Retailers, such as Kmart and Target, are displaying notifications on their online store warning customers that delivery delays of their online orders may be experienced.

Target flagged due to delays in the Australia Post network, delivery times would be impacted. Similarly, Kmart noted on its website that it's currently experiencing courier delays in Victoria and New South Wales, with metro deliveries expected to take up 14 days, and regional and remote deliveries up to 21 days.

A Big W spokesperson also admitted the retailer was working through some order delays.

"Some customers have experienced delays with their home delivery orders due to Australia Post's announcement, however we work with alternative delivery partners as well to minimise delays," the spokesperson said.

The focus for Big W now is making sure online orders can be delivered in time for Christmas.

"We are focused on delivering a safe and efficient service for our customers so that we can make Christmas special for families," a Big W spokesperson said.

"We are also encouraging customers that if they are planning their online shop, to choose our free and contactless pick up or direct to boot service for a faster turnaround."

Whether Australia Post would consider another pause, the organisation did not rule it out.

"We will continue to monitor impacts and volume in coming months, and with record volumes, our processing and deliveries team are working harder than ever before -- with 15 million people in lockdown and lots of online shopping coming through the network," the Australia Post spokesperson said.

Collections from all other states and territories, as well as Express Post, Premium, and Startrack Express services, and collections from post offices and street posting boxes, however, were not impacted by the pause. 

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